Downtown DASH to See an Influx of Quarters in 2008
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — Starting January 1st riders of LADOT's DASH and Commuter Express service will no longer be able to use a Metro fare for payment. The announcement, issued Thursday after City Council gave its approval earlier in the week, is the first real outcome from a long back-and-forth between the two transit agencies.
While only five Community DASH lines and Commuter Express had received reimbursement from Metro, LADOT had previously accepted Metro passes on Downtown DASH service as well. Riders using Metro passes accounted for roughly 1/3 of Downtown DASH ridership, costing the city $500,000 - $650,000 annually. LADOT had hoped to get Metro to agree to provide reimbursement for these riders, but instead Metro in September announced its intention to cancel even the existing agreements.
The result is that 2008 is going to see a lot more quarters clinking into the Downtown DASH farebox. 2.6 million Downtown DASH boardings last year were via Metro pass. These riders will now need to either purchase an EZ Transit Pass instead of their typical Metro pass or stick a quarter in the box on boarding.
All the news isn't bad for LADOT. Total Metro reimbursement in FY 2006-07 totaled approximately $760,000. Even just looking at DASH service and its 25 cent fares, LADOT would increase farebox revenue by almost $1.4 million dollars by ceasing to allow the Metro passes. Certainly the change would result in some ridership loss, but it seems certain that the final numbers would result in a net gain for LADOT.
Additionally, charging fares to Downtown DASH riders formerly allowed to ride via Metro passes will allow LADOT to receive an additional $800,000 in county Formula Allocation Procedure (FAP) funds. These are funds divided among transit providers in the county, Metro included. The allocation is done by a formula that includes ridership counts and the cost of a base fare. Since LADOT had no reimbursement agreement for the Downtown DASH pass riders, their free rides did not count toward LADOT's formula funding. LADOT won't see this funding for two years, but given the vast shortfall in Proposition A funding ($200 million over ten years) it will certainly be welcomed once it does arrive.